Theatre review: The Mikado at the King’s Head Theatre

Young theatre companies delivers on laughs in this Gilbert and Sullivan production

Much of the political satire of Flanders and Swann, Monty Python and Yes Minister can be traced back to the works of Gilbert and Sullivan.

The song When I Was A Lad in their early operetta HMS Pinafore was to shamelessly poke fun at the British establishment and pour derision on individuals in power.

In their later works, including The Gondoliers, Princess Ida and The Mikado, the settings were changed, but the targets still clear.

Charles Court Opera provides an updated, youthful stab at bureaucracy in their version of what is probably the best known of the Victorian pair’s works.


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It may be set in Japan, but the corridors of power in Westminster are where many of their barbs are aimed.

If Stephen Fry, Tim McInnerny, Hugh Laurie, Rowan Atkinson and co had the right singing voices, they could be slotted seamlessly into an interpretation like this, which is slimmed down to nine key characters to fit the small stage.

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John Savournin’s performance as Pooh-Bah sets the tone for the satire and Philip Lee’s carefully tuned Ko-Ko offers a perfect balance, through both character and voice.

The play-off between these two characters - Ko-Ko having found himself as Lord High Executioner and Pooh-Bah as Lord High everything else - is at the heart of any good production of The Mikado.

The love triangle provided by Catrine Kirkman as Yum-Yum, Rosie Strobel’s Katisha and Kevin Kyle’s Nanki-Poo also sucks you in.

Kyle works the stage like a gap-year student come home after travelling the world.

And Simon Masterson-Smith offers a wonderful moodily threatening Mikado to throw the rest of the assembled throng into a state of terror.

* The Mikado was performed at the King’s Head Theatre, in Upper Street, N1, until the end of November.

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